Will have to shut vaccination centres for 18-44 age group as vaccine stocks are over: Delhi CM

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New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said COVID-19 vaccination centres for those in the 18-44 age group have to be closed due to lack of doses, and wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for immediate supply of jabs and increasing the quota of the city.

As the country is facing a shortage of vaccine, Kejriwal gave four suggestions to Modi, including procurement of vaccines from foreign manufacturers and inviting firms for production in India.

In an online press conference, Kejriwal said that from Sunday, all vaccination centres for youths in Delhi will be closed as stocks have run out.

Delhi requires 80 lakh doses a month to vaccinate people in three months. But it only received 16 lakh doses in May and the Centre has further decreased Delhi's quota in June to 8 lakh doses, Kejriwal said.

So far 50 lakh people have been vaccinated in Delhi. Further, 2.5 crore more doses are required to vaccinate all adults in Delhi, he said.

'With this speed of 8 lakh doses per month, it will take 30 months to vaccinate all the adults alone. By then, no one knows how many waves will arrive and how many deaths will occur,' Kejriwal said, urging the prime minister to raise the quota and supply to the city immediately.

The chief minister extended four suggestions to the central government to enhance vaccine availability in the country.

The central government should within 24 hours direct all capable companies in the country to start manufacturing Covaxin as Bharat Biotech has agreed to share its formula, he said.

Vaccines manufactured abroad should be used in India and the Centre needs to procure vaccines on the behalf of states as it will be more effective in bulk procurement, Kejriwal said.

Foreign companies should be allowed to manufacture vaccines in India and the Centre should try to get vaccines from such countries that have stocks of more doses than their need, he suggested. Vaccination of maximum number of people in the shortest time is the only way to save Delhi and the country from the third wave of coronavirus, Kejriwal asserted.

'We are arranging beds, oxygen and medicines, but vaccine is the most effective weapon of protection against the fatal virus.' Shortage of vaccine is not just a matter of worry for the governments, common people are also scared due to this crisis, he claimed.

Shortage of vaccine has caused a very difficult situation in the country, Kejriwal said and narrated a call he had received from an elderly mother who requested vaccine for his son foregoing the jab herself saying he needed it more than her because he had a job to take care of the family.

'I was deeply pained hearing this. There could be nothing more painful than this 'dharmsankat' (dilemma) before a father, mother, brother or sister -- whether to have the vaccine or give it up for a younger member in the family,' he said.

Kejriwal said it was a matter of relief that that the speed of coronavirus spread has significantly slowed down in Delhi but cautioned that it did not mean the threat was averted and emphasised on maintaining all the precautions.

In the past 24 hours, around 2,200 cases were reported and the positivity rate is 3.5 per cent, he said. PTI VIT SLB SMN SMN